This offseason, Zach Tom loomed as a challenger for either the Packers‘ center or right tackle spots. While it is not known just yet where the second-year blocker will end up, it looks like his playing time will increase. Tom is going to end up starting, Matt Schneidman of The Athletic notes (subscription required). A fourth-round pick out of Wake Forest, Tom started five of the nine games he played last season and saw time at four of the five O-line positions (all but center). Tom did start at center for the Demon Deacons, however, playing there and at left tackle in college. Former second-round pick Josh Myers has been the Packers’ primary center over the past two seasons. Should Tom land at right tackle, Yosh Nijman — whom the team gave a second-round RFA tender this offseason — would be on track to be a backup.
Here is the latest from the NFC North:
- The Bears‘ running back race is still too early to call, but The Athletic’s Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain posit that Khalil Herbert is the current frontronner. David Montgomery‘s top backup last season, Herbert flashed when available. The former sixth-round pick averaged 5.7 yards per carry, helping the Bears lead the league in rushing. With Montgomery now in Detroit, the Bears have held a three-man competition — between Herbert, UFA pickup D’Onta Foreman and fourth-rounder Roschon Johnson — to replace him. Even if Herbert wins the starter gig, Chicago’s run-oriented attack will likely require regular workloads from multiple backs.
- Veteran running back Mike Davis stopped through Minneapolis for a recent Vikings workout, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Minnesota, which is all set to complete a Dalvin Cook-to-Alexander Mattison transition, recently auditioned Kareem Hunt as well. Beyond Mattison, the Vikings roster Ty Chandler (2022, Round 5) and DeWayne McBride (2023, Round 7) as their top backfield options. Davis, 30, spent last season with the Ravens but did not carve out much playing time — even for a team reeling at running back. He fared better with the Panthers and Falcons in 2020 and 2021, respectively, combining for 1,145 rushing yards in that span.
- Byron Murphy played a versatile role for the Cardinals, lining up in the slot and outside. The Vikings are planning to capitalize on Murphy’s slot experience, with ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert noting the free agency pickup will move inside when the team shifts to its nickel package. With nickel and dime sets now more common than base alignments, Murphy should be expected to see plenty of slot work in Minnesota.
- A 2022 second-round pick, Andrew Booth has not made a strong case to move into the starting lineup alongside Murphy. The Clemson product is running Akayleb Evans, a 2022 fourth-rounder, along with Joejuan Williams and rookie third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon. Williams and Blackmon look to be competing for the CB3 role, The Athletic’s Alec Lewis adds, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling notes the rookie is believed to be ahead of the former Patriots second-rounder. Evans, who played 162 defensive snaps last season, has spent the most time with the first team of this group. The Vikings have rebooted at corner, letting both Patrick Peterson and slot Chandon Sullivan walk in free agency.
- Danielle Hunter‘s reworked deal calls for a $20.95MM cap hit, and although this is now a contract year for the veteran defensive end, two void years remain on the deal (Twitter links via Goessling and ESPN’s Field Yates). Hunter’s $3MM in incentives are classified as not likely to be earned, per Goessling. The void years would leave the Vikings with a $14.9MM dead-money hit if they do not re-sign Hunter before the 2024 league year begins. Void years led to the Vikings taking a $7.5MM dead-money hit when Dalvin Tomlinson left in free agency this year.
- While Teddy Bridgewater secured $2.5MM guaranteed from the Lions, GOPHNX.com’s Howard Balzer tweets the veteran QB’s Lions deal is worth $3MM in base value. The Lions used a void year, keeping the cap number at $2.66MM.